Politics

Politics
3:25 pm
Fri April 8, 2011

President Obama to Return to Austin

President Obama spoke at UT in August 2010.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

President Barack Obama is heading to Austin for a fundraiser. The visit is planned for May 10. 

President Obama announced this week that he would run for re-election in 2012. It wasn't a huge surprise, but he is the first to announce his plans.

Politics
2:04 pm
Wed April 6, 2011

Dueling Sides of the Texas Budget Debate Make Noise at the Capitol

American's for Prosperity-Texas leader Peggy Venable warns lawmakers to cut state spending.
Photo by KUT News

Political battles are often fought on the right or left of a topic.  But today ideology was divided by the North and South sides of the Capitol.  

Read more
Politics
4:55 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Senate to Pass Bill Regulating Homeonwners' Associations

The Texas Senate has passed a bill to restrict HOA's potential abuse of foreclosing on homeowners.
Photo by KUT News

Homeowners’ associations might not be able to turn the heat anymore on homeowners.

The Texas Senate passed SB 142, which restricts associations from exercising their rights to foreclose homeowners who didn’t pay dues and fees.

The bill, filed by State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), aims to protect homeowners from potential abuse of foreclosure, especially on the families of soldiers serving overseas.

Read more
Politics
3:28 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

School Finance Pops Up in House Committee

Lawmakers will have to change the school funding system to mach the billions cut in public ed.
Photo by KUT News

So what does cutting the state's public education budget by about $7.8 billion dollars look like?

Based on a bill by Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston), it looks pretty ugly. But he says with the amount of money lawmakers in the House just voted to give to schools during the state budget debate, there's not a pretty way to get money to schools.

Read more
Politics
12:35 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Football Helmet Bill Working Its Way Through the Texas House

The helmet bill hopes to keep unsafe equipment off the field.
Photo by KUT News

A bill in the Texas House that hopes to reduce head injuries in middle and high school athletics received initial approval today. The bill by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-San Benito) would prohibit the use of all football helmets in use 16 years.  It would also require any 10-year-old helmets to be reconditioned at least once every 10 years.

Read more
Politics
1:41 pm
Mon April 4, 2011

Texas Lawmaker Tackle Feral Hog Legislation

A bill up in the House could allow Texans to hunt feral hogs from helecopters.
Photo by flickr.com/pierceplace532/

O.K...Maybe "tackle" was NOT the right word to use on this bill, because the bill passed without ANY debate. Rep. Sid Miller's bill passed 137 - 9.

The proposal wasn't exactly a new idea. The bill passed the House in 2009, but never got a hearing in the Senate, according to Rep. Miller (R-Stephenville).

Read more
Politics
5:31 pm
Sun April 3, 2011

Texas House Budget Debate - Part II

Debate today is going much faster than Friday/Saturday.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News

If you're watching the Texas House budget debate today - don't blink.  

While it took about 16 hours to get through the first three articles of the budget Friday, lawmakers are zooming through their debate on the remaining parts of the budget.  

Many amendments are simply being withdrawn - or moved to Article XI in the budget.  That's the place were projects without funding go to hang out just in case money can be found to fund them.  

Read more
Politics
12:39 am
Sat April 2, 2011

Texas House Closes Budget Debate for the Night

Lawmakers will break until Sunday.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas House has ended debate for the night on the state budget.  Lawmakers were able to get through the first 3 articles of the $164 billion bill - that includes general government (I), health and human services (II) and education (III).

Politics
8:48 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

Budget Protesters Fill Hall Outside Texas House

ADAPT protestors mourning the "death" of several state programs.
Photo by KUT News

House Democrats aren't the only ones not happy about the spending cuts made in that chamber's version of the state budget.  ADAPT of Texas, a grassroots disability rights group, has a full protest on the 2nd floor landing right outside the House chamber.  Their chants have been heard over the last couple of hours anytime the debate in chambers hits a lull.  The ADAPT website lists several reasons for their opposition to the things the group says the bill does:

Read more
Politics
6:48 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

House Moves to Education Section of State Budget

The education debate begins in the House.
Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Family planning was the target in in Article II of the budget. The Windham School District (an education system run in state prisons) appears to be the piggy bank for Article III. The first three amendments take about $1.1 million from Windham to pay for other educational programs. The fourth takes sweeps the entire Windham budget, $84 million, for other programs.

Read more
Politics
5:07 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

Picking On Family Planning

Republicans had several amendments to move money out of family planning.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News

The House is taking up the 371 pre-filed state budget amendments article by article.  There are 11 articles in the budget, although Article 11 is mostly a repository for projects that are not going to get funding. 

Read more
Politics
9:59 am
Fri April 1, 2011

Budget Debate Begins in the Texas House

Debate on HB 1 could last throughout the night.
Photo by KUT News

The Texas House is off and running this morning on HB 1, the state budget bill. The $164 billion dollar budget is about $23 billion less than the budget passed in the 2009 legislative session. It also does not take into account population and enrollment growth in many state agencies and programs, like K-12 public education.

Read more
Politics
6:35 pm
Thu March 31, 2011

Cracking open the 'Rainy Day Fund'

A long weekend of debates on the state budget began Thursday morning.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News

Because Texas doesn’t have enough money to run the state for the rest of the fiscal year, legislators gave initial approval to HB 275 today, authorizing a $3.1 billion withdrawal from the so-called rainy day fund to help  pay for a more than $4 billion supplemental appropriation. That bill is also set for final passage on Friday.

Read more
Politics
4:57 pm
Thu March 31, 2011

Texas House Cuts To Cover Current Shortfall

Photo by KUT

The Texas House passed a bill today to that would reduce funding to state agencies and institutions of higher education by a total of $1.5 billion for the rest of this fiscal year. The cuts address a $4.5 billion shortfall the state is facing for FY 2011, which ends on August 31st.

Read more
Politics
10:50 am
Thu March 31, 2011

Watch The Texas House Debate Live

Our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, is live streaming the House floor as lawmakers debate several key pieces of budget legislation.  The Trib's Thanh Tan is also live blogging the debate. 

Read more
Politics
12:39 pm
Wed March 30, 2011

Bill Would Require Some Stores To Offer Plastic Bag Recycling

Senate Bill 908 would require retail outlets to offer recycling for plastic bags if they provide them to customers.
Photo by KUT News

A bill up for consideration in the Texas Legislature this session would mandate some retail outlets across the state to establish recycling programs for the plastic bags they hand out to customers.

Senate Bill 908, authored by Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), would require larger retail stores to offer bag recycling. It would not apply to Mom and Pop operations, but is aimed at stores like Wal-Mart and H-E-B.

Read more
Environment
2:58 pm
Tue March 29, 2011

Texas Budget Big Enough To Tax Coal?

Environmental groups propose taxing "dirty resources" such as coal to raise revenue for Texas.
Image Courtesy of rankingranqueen http://www.flickr.com/photos/81343817@N00/399081880/sizes/l/in/photostream/

A budget deficit of $27 million has some people envisioning blackjack tables and penny slots in the parts of South and East Texas. Casino lobbyists are working overtime right now. But is the shortfall enough to put a tax on things like coal or making people pay a fee for driving cars that don't pass fuel efficiency standards?

The Texas League of Conservation Voters hopes so. The environmental policy lobby group calls this "green revenue."  They laid out some suggestions today at a press  conference held at the State Capitol.

Read more
Politics
9:04 am
Tue March 29, 2011

The Push for Casinos to Save the Texas Budget

Jack Pratt will help push casinos in Texas
Photo courtesy The Texas Tribune for KUT News

With lawmakers ready to cut around $23 billion from the state budget - any ideas that could raise revenue are going to get a listen. Casino and Racino (that's a horse track casino) interests are at the Texas Capitol this morning trying to convince lawmakers to take the money and jobs they can offer.

Read more
Politics
11:14 am
Mon March 28, 2011

A New Proposal to Get Around Capitol Security Lines

Security lines have been a hassle for many at the Texas State Capitol
Photo by KUT News

Getting in to the Texas Capitol has been a bit of an issue during the 2011 Texas Legislative session.  Last year, metal detectors and x-ray machines were installed at each entrance to the building.  Anyone who isn't a lawmaker, staff member, or state concealed handgun license(CHL) holder, must now stop - and go through an airport-like checkpoint - before heading on to any office, committee hearing, or floor debate.  

Read more
Politics
12:58 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Possible Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits

People collecting unemployment benefits, like some at this Texas Workforce Commission office, would be required to submit to drug testing under a bill in the Texas House
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A proposal at the State Capitol would require drug testing for anyone who files an unemployment benefits claim, disqualifying them from benefits if they test positive.  The bill is one in a series filed by Representative Ken Legler (R-Pasadena) to combat what he calls fraud among people collecting benefits.

Read more

Pages